As you may or may not know, I have an odd fascination with the marriage of F&B and technology. Even my education has been crossed hospitality with instructional design and (educational) technology. With the amazing advancements that we have made in the technology world, it was only a matter of time before the beverage world started exploring the crazy possibilities! 

You’ve probably heard of terms such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), etc. Surprisingly, these innovations have been around for multiple decades, but just never really “took off.” Do you recall inventions that began over 50 years ago, such as “Smell-o-vision,” “Sensorama,” or 3D stereoscopic films? At the time, those inventions were difficult to sustain due to the high costs associated, but they did form the foundation for film enhancements we watch today (widescreen movies, IMAX, 3D, etc.). In the gaming world, AR & VR have made a fair entry into the market, but it has only been in recent years that it has been applied to more specialized industries, like education, and more recently, food and beverage. 

This month, I will be sharing one particular area, generally categorized as mixed reality, and one of the applications that has recently surged in popularity in the consumer beverage world recently.

What is Mixed Reality?

If you think of the extremes of the environments that we reside in, we live in the “real” environment. On the other end of the spectrum is the “virtual” environment. The real environment is the one that you live in. Virtual reality immerses users into a fully artificial, simulated digital (i.e., virtual) environment. 

Mixed Reality, often used interchangeably with, but is also a subset of the Mixed Reality umbrella term (encompassing real, virtual, and mixed reality), is where the real and virtual environments are blended together to varying degrees. Within Mixed Reality, you have Augmented Reality, where virtual elements are overlaid them into the real world environment, to Augmented Virtuality, where reality elements are overlaid into the virtual environment. 

In the beverage world, I have seen some technology like QR codes being used on wine bottles, in tasting rooms and wine shops, to the vineyards. However, recently, Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) began experimenting with Mixed Reality. Read on to learn all about it! 

Living Wine Labels App (formerly the 19 Crimes app)

Website: https://www.livingwinelabels.com/ 

What started as a one-time, disruptive innovation to use for one wine brand, has now spawned an entire program to take expand and advantage of the possibilities! Initially, Treasury Wine Estates sought out Tactic and J. Walter Thompson to create the 19 Crimes augmented reality app for the wine brand as a marketing tactic to draw millennials. 

19 Crimes  

Website: http://19crimes.com/ 

The 19 Crimes wine label concept team drew from a historical reference to the 1700s. Beginning in 1783, those in Britain who were convicted of one of 19 crimes would be punished and sentenced to live in Australia, rather than face death. Their stories now live on through the augmented reality app. Consumers who purchase the bottles are able to use the app to scan the labels, and learn about this period in history through the criminals themselves, who tell their story. They appear to be real (or simulated through augmented reality) and speaking directly to the viewer, which makes it that much more intriguing. 

Due to its unexpected popularity boom, the 19 Crimes app was revamped to the Living Wine Labels app, which has since increased its wine label offerings. 

The Walking Dead 

Website: https://www.thewalkingdeadwine.com 

Its most recent successes have been with the new release of The Walking Dead wine brand (brought to you by The Last Wine Company, a partnership between Skybound Entertainment and Treasury Wine Estates). This latest brand takes advantage of the cult following of the popular TV series. The Living Wine Labels app allows consumers to experience joining forces with Rick Grimes of The Walking Dead, or simulate the experience of escaping a zombie. If you purchase both bottles, you can even use them together to unlock a special experience: the final battle for survival!

Other brands available on the app:  

Treasury Wine Estates has capitalized on this disruptive marketing program by adding to the number of wines that are now available on the Living Wine Labels app: 

• Beringer Bros.

• Gentleman’s Collection

• Chateau St. Jean (exclusive to US
and Canada)

Treasury Wine Estates has maintained its double-digit growth over the past few years, likely in part due to the company’s willingness to adapt and innovate. The embracing of technology has really worked for the company, as they are willing to apply innovations to stay on the forefront of advancements. 

Technology really has come a long way, and it’s great to see so many companies embracing its application in their respective fields. I am excited to see the possibilities continue to evolve and grow within the beverage world. Who knows, we may one day have not only augment reality, but VIRTUAL reality experiences applied to the beverage industry (if not already)! 

Until next month, Cheers~!

Alice